A new report, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), has revealed that ex-Service personnel who participated in counter-insurgency (COIN) warfare have special needs and require specific forms of support with transition back into civilian life than those who have been involved in conventional wars…

The report, produced by the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice based at Queen’s University Belfast, titled ‘How Counter-Insurgency Warfare Experiences Impact upon the Post-Deployment Reintegration of British Soldiers’ makes a number of recommendations, which include:

  • Transition strategies must provide practical and engaged support through interactive learning and mentoring. It should not be a ‘tick box’ exercise that amounts merely to the provision of information leaflets
  • Support programmes should avoid ‘transitional naïvety’ through garnering unrealistic expectations of post-deployment prospects
  • Over-identification with military life can narrow soldiers’ identity, making it difficult to shift identity on to aspects of their civilian life

Researchers listened to over 90 hours of recorded interviews with 129 contributors; 20 from earlier COIN operations in the 1950s and 60s, 30 from the Ulster Defence Regiment in Northern Ireland, 70 who fought in Afghanistan, and 9 from other conflicts, to assess the language used and similarities in descriptive language and tone.

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